Local Politics

Jim Black released from prison

Posted October 4, 2010

— Former state House Speaker Jim Black has been released from federal prison, his attorney said Monday.

Black was scheduled to be released from the prison in Jesup, Ga., in March 2011, but he will spend the final six months at a halfway house in Mecklenburg County or under house arrest, Raleigh attorney Whit Powell said in a news release.

Jon Black traveled to Jesup to pick up his father and bring him back to North Carolina, Powell said.

Once one of the most powerful politicians in North Carolina, the 74-year-old optometrist pleaded guilty in 2007 to charges that he accepted illegal campaign contributions from chiropractors in exchange for supporting legislation favorable to the industry. He was sentenced to 63 months in prison.

“Being separated from my family, friends, and loved ones since 2007 has been difficult. My years in two different institutions have been a period of great personal growth and learning,” Jim Black said in a statement.

“While in office, I made speech after speech about the need for education as a means of reducing the prison population,” he said. “I now know firsthand that this is true. So much of what I have learned these last few years has re-energized my commitment to providing educational opportunities to our state’s young people, as well as adult learners.”

Black also pleaded guilty in state court in 2007 to bribery and obstruction of justice charges. The bribery charge was in connection to paying former Forsyth County lawmaker Michael Decker to switch parties in 2003 so Black could retain a share of the House speakership. The obstruction charge stemmed from encouraging chiropractors to fudge when speaking to authorities about cash they had given him.

The state prison sentences have run at the same time as his federal sentence, and Black last year paid off a $1 million fine that was imposed for the bribery conviction.

He was able to trim a year off the sentence by completing alcohol treatment in prison and through good-behavior credits.

Powell said Black will likely write a book to offer his side of the story on his guilty pleas, as well as other anecdotes from his time in politics.


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  • Madonna Oct 5, 2010

    Good point Objective Scientist. Jim Black is an expert on government corruption and his energy/effort should go toward developing prevention programs. I wonder why he doesn't want to work in this area?

  • Objective Scientist Oct 5, 2010

    He's going to "speak out" in support of education. Nothing wrong with that... a very laudable topic. Nevertheless, I have to question his choice of topics. Why not speak out about political and government corruption... how/why that is wrong, what to "look out for" with regard to vigilance, and how to prevent it? Seems he should be one of several "experts" in NC who could address that.

  • The Hammer Oct 5, 2010

    Don't forget, this guy led an effort that stole an entire election, the Republicans would have controlled the legislature otherwise. What I find interesting (and appalling) is the refusal of local media to even mention this fact.

  • spartanpirate Oct 5, 2010

    I don't think that anyone will read it. Let him write the book and tell more lies.

  • batcave Oct 5, 2010

    The Dem party will need the cell space for future offenders.

  • Bill of Rights Oct 5, 2010

    It's ironic that so many people are so quick to condemn this man's right to write a book. Nobody's forcing you to buy it, and those that do are just exercising their right to spend their money as they please. Either you support freedom or you don't - and like it or not, this man is paying his debt to society and will accordingly have the right to exercise free speech like the rest of us.

  • indrdw Oct 5, 2010

    Yes, he was sorry he got caught not that he did it. Elected officials seem to think they should be able to do anything they can get by with as long as they can. Most of them never pay in this life. Hope no one buys his book. More money he can make from his crime.

  • LL4U Oct 4, 2010

    He was only "sorry" because he got caught!! He should have been made to travel the state in a mobile optometrist office and give free eye exams to every woman, man and child who needed that service for the ENTIRE duration of his sentence. AND yes, I am judging him - he abused the public trust that was given him upon his election (sadly, like most politicians). I am so tired of elected officials who think the very laws they pass do not apply to them. There were several appeals to move him closer to home, shorten his sentence, etc., because he "was not well". So I guess he's much better now and can write a book. Sickening!!!!!

  • oleguy Oct 4, 2010

    Give me a break,,,

  • clickhere Oct 4, 2010

    hmmmm, I think they should throw the unemployed into Federal prison. I've been unemployed for a while now and certainly haven't noticed the personal growth and learning. I've been too focused on following the ESC rules on finding work, to no avail. If I had been in Federal prison I could have focused on what I needed to do in 3 years instead of taking it one day at a time, hoping for a job tomorrow, always tomorrow. Definitely a lesson here. Next time I'm unemployed I'll seek a term in federal prison and be ready when I get out.